Thursday, June 30, 2011

Rich Little

Country of origin: Canada

Richard Caruthers "Rich" Little (born November 26, 1938) is a Canadian-American impressionist and voice actor. He has long been known throughout the world as a top impersonator of famous people, resulting in his nickname, "The Man of a Thousand Voices".


Little has been active in several charities including the Juvenile Diabetes Fund and the Children's Miracle Network. He has been named to Miami Children's Hospital International Pediatrics Hall of Fame and been honored by the naming of the Rich Little Special Care Nursery at Ottawa Civic Hospital.

To find out more about Rich Little, visit his page on Wikipedia, or look at his biography here.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Selamawi Haileab Asgedom

Country of origin: Ethiopia

Selamawi Haileab Asgedom (Amharic: ሰላማዊ ሃእለአብ አስገዶም; born in Adi Wahla, Ethiopia on September 29, 1976) or Mawi Asgedom for short, is an author, public speaker, and a refugee of Ethiopian and Eritrean origin. Mawi was born in Ethiopia. For about two years of his childhood, he was separated from his father, Halieab, when he had to flee to Sudan to avoid the war in Ethiopia. Mawi was seven years old when he and his family arrived in the U.S. in 1983, sponsored by World Relief. They had spent the previous three years in a refugee camp in Sudan. He grew up in the Chicago suburb of Wheaton, Illinois. He played on his high school basketball team and ran track. He graduated with top honors from Harvard University, receiving a degree in American history and giving the commencement address at his graduation in 1999. While attending Harvard he joined the Delta Upsilon Fraternity. Since graduating from Harvard, Mawi has dedicated himself to uplifting teenagers. He is the bestselling author of Of Beetles and Angels: A Boy's Remarkable Journey from a Refugee Camp to Harvard and The Code: The 5 Secrets of Teen Success.

To read more about Selamawi Haileab Asgedom, read his page on Wikipedia.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Harry Gluckman

Country of origin: Germany

The Gluckman family was one of hundreds of Jews who escaped Germany and occupied Europe in 1939-40 by traveling eastward. Many landed in San Francisco and were processed at Angel Island. Some of their stories are only now coming to light.

To read more about Harry Gluckman, visit his page on

Monday, June 27, 2011

Pham Kim Phuong

Country of origin: Vietnam

Pham Kim Phuong, who came to the U.S. as a child in April 1975 when Saigon fell to the Communists, recounts her journey back to Vietnam. In an emotional turn of events, she revisits her home town and finds long-lost relatives who have kept her memory alive despite years of separation.

To read the rest of her story, visit the website.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Conrad Bain

Country of origin: Canada

Conrad Stafford Bain (born February 4, 1923) is a Canadian-American actor. His television credits include a leading role as Phillip Drummond in the sitcom Diff'rent Strokes and as Dr. Arthur Harmon on Maude.

To read more about Conrad Bain, visit his page on Wikipedia or see his biography here.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Aldous Huxley

Country of origin: England

Aldous Leonard Huxley (26 July 1894 – 22 November 1963) was an English writer and one of the most prominent members of the famous Huxley family. He spent the later part of his life in the United States, living in Los Angeles from 1937 until his death in 1963. Best known for his novels including Brave New World and a wide-ranging output of essays, Huxley also edited the magazine Oxford Poetry, and published short stories, poetry, travel writing, and film stories and scripts.

To read more about Aldous Huxley, visit his page at Wikipedia.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Mandeep Chahal

Country of origin: India

Mandeep Chahal, a pre-med honor student at UC Davis, and her mother facing deportation to India have been given a reprieve, their lawyer said today. Both were scheduled to be deported to India at 1 a.m. Wednesday.

To read more about this breaking story, you can find the rest of the article here.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Jose Antonio Vargas

Country of origin: Philippines

Jose Antonio Vargas (born February 3, 1981) is a Pulitzer Prize-winning Filipino journalist and documentary filmmaker known for his coverage of HIV, the Virginia Tech shootings, and the influence that politics and the Internet have on each other. Raised in the United States from the age of 12, Vargas has worked for The San Francisco Chronicle, The Philadelphia Daily News, The Washington Post, and The Huffington Post.

To read more about Jose Antonio Vargas,visit his page on Wikipedia. Mr. Vargas has just recently admitted that he is an undocumented immigrant; to find out more about his amazing story see this story at the New York Times. You can also see an interview with Mr. Vargas here on Youtube.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Morris Kaunda Michael

Country of origin: Sudan

It’s a long way from the soccer fields of Kenya’s Kakuma refugee camp to the Ivy League — but Morris Kaunda Michael made the journey.

Last month, Michael, a 23-year-old Sudanese refugee, graduated from Columbia’s Fu Foundation School of Engineering with a B.S. in biomedical engineering. He hopes to continue his studies in medical school so he can use his education to help people still living in the severe poverty he left behind.

“I owe something to the world. As a refugee, you don’t have a lot of things of your own. Most things are gifts,” said Michael. “The best I can do is to give back to the community.”

To read more about Morris Kaunda Michael, see the rest of his story at MSNBC, or visit his profile at for a biography and video interview.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Robyn Rihanna Fenty

Country of origin: Barbados

Robyn Rihanna Fenty (born February 20, 1988), better known as simply Rihanna (pronounced /riˈɑːnə/ ree-yah-na or /riˈænə/ ree-an-ə), is an R&B recording artist. Born in Saint Michael, Barbados, Rihanna moved to the United States at the age of 16 to pursue a recording career under the guidance of record producer Evan Rogers. She subsequently signed a contract with Def Jam Recordings after auditioning for then-label head Jay-Z.


Rihanna has sold more than 30 million albums and 100 million singles making her one of the best selling artists of all time. She has achieved ten number-one singles on the Billboard Hot 100 since first appearing on the chart on June 11, 2005, which is the most by any artist during that time span. As of March 18, 2011, Rihanna has sold approximately 6 million album units and over 33,7 million digital singles in the US. She has sold over 10 million records in the UK. Billboard named Rihanna the Digital Songs Artist of the 2000s decade. She has received several accolades, including the 2007 World Music Awards for World's Best-Selling Pop Female Artist and Female Entertainer of the Year, and the 2011 Brit Award for Best International Female Solo Artist. She has also amassed a total of four Grammy Awards, four American Music Awards, and eighteen Billboard Music Awards.

To read more about Rihanna, visit her page on Wikipedia. To find out more about the causes she supports, including the Believe Foundation she founded in 2006 to help terminally ill children, visit her page on

Monday, June 20, 2011

Henry and Miriam Haskin

Country of origin: Russia

Henry Haskin was a Russian Jew who immigrated to the U.S. through San Francisco on the ShinyoMaru, which arrived on January 25, 1916. Born Aron Hasankin in Russia in November 27, 1891, he grew up in the region that is now part of the Ukraine and went to work for a printing company when he was twelve or thirteen years old. His early experience as a printer in Russia would lead to his success as the founder of the California Printing Company in San Francisco.

To read more about Henry Haskin and his wife, visit their page on

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Chan Teung Yee

Country of origin: China

His story is told by his daughter Helen Yee:

Born on October 13, 1911, in Canton, China, my Dad, Chen Teung Yee, was a petite gentleman, who stood tall in his children’s eyes. He was the sole surviving child in his family. His grandfather was a blacksmith and his father was a fisherman. The family farmed as well.

My Dad was an adventurer, who immigrated to City of San Francisco when he was seventeen. He arrived by ship and spent about six months on Angel Island before he was permitted to enter the United States. We were never told why he remained at the immigration center so long, although he knew others who stayed even longer, or who were returned to China.

To read more about Chan Teung Yee, visit You can also read about his daughter's story there as well.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Eva Schott Berek

Country of origin: Germany

Berek was born in Berlin in 1921, where she lived with her parents, Ernst and Hedwig (Hedi) Schott. Ernst had owned a small shoe factory and later earned a decent living as a buyer for a shoe company. He had been a World War I vet and was wounded fighting for Germany.

But starting in 1938 neither Ernst nor Hedi were allowed to work under the Nazis’ increasingly repressive regulations. Eva was kicked out of high school at age 14 because the Nazis did not allow Jewish children to attend public school. By 1940, the Nazis had already deported many Jews to concentration camps. Berek thinks that her family might have been spared because they lived in a Catholic neighborhood and because her father was a war veteran.

Her parents were forced to sell their possessions to survive. After the 1939 German attack on Poland that began World War II, Germany faced many food shortages. Jews were confined by a curfew to stay in their houses until 4 p.m., after which it was almost impossible to find food in the shops.

To read more of Eva Schott Berek's story, visit

Friday, June 17, 2011

Stanley and Amy Gee

Country of origin: China

[Stanley Gee] came to this country from Hong Kong in 1938 when he was eighteen in search of a better life. His family was very poor because his father had been incapacitated by a stroke. When he came to this country, he was interned at the Angel Island Immigration Station due to laws restricting Chinese immigration. He was interrogated and spent ten days there before he was released.


[Amy Gee] was born in Shanghai and immigrated in 1949 after the war to escape the Communists.

To read more about Stanley and Amy Gee, read their story as told by their son Delbert Gee.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Salvatore Grosso

Country of origin: Germany

Salvatore "Sonny" Grosso is a movie and television producer and former New York City Police Department detective, noted for his role in the case immortalized in the book and movie versions of the French Connection. He was born in the early 1930s in Düsseldorf, Germany.

To learn more about Salvatore Grosso, visit his page on Wikipedia, or see his page on

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Raha Jorjani

Country of origin: Iran

Professor Raha Jorjani is a Supervising Attorney and Lecturer in the UC Davis School of Law Immigration Law Clinic. Since beginning her legal practice, she has defended immigrants from detention and deportation before the Immigration Courts, the Board of Immigration Appeals, and Federal Courts including the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

To read more about Raha Jorjani, see her page at UC Davis. To see a brief interview with her and other "accidental immigrants", see her interview on Youtube, as well as the other interviews on the Accidental American channel.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Jaime Escalante

Country of origin: Bolivia

Jaime Alfonso Escalante Gutierrez (December 31, 1930 — March 30, 2010) was a Bolivian-born American educator well-known for teaching students calculus from 1974 to 1991 at Garfield High School, East Los Angeles, California. Escalante was the subject of the 1988 film Stand and Deliver, in which he is portrayed by Edward James Olmos.



* 1988 – Presidential Medal for Excellence in Education, awarded by President Ronald Reagan
* 1988 – Hispanic Heritage Awards Honoree
* 1989 – Honorary Doctor of Science – University of Massachusetts Boston
* 1990 – Honorary Doctor of Humanities – California State University, Los Angeles
* 1990 – Honorary Doctor of Education – Concordia University, Montreal
* 1990 – Honorary Doctor of Laws – University of Northern Colorado
* 1998 – Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters – Wittenberg University
* 1998 – Free Spirit Award, from the Freedom Forum
* 1998 – Andrés Bello prize, from the Organization of American States
* 1999 – Inductee National Teachers Hall of Fame
* 2002 – Member, President's Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans
* 2005 – The Highest Office Award – Center for Youth Citizenship
* 2005 – Best teacher in North America – Freedom Forum

To read more about Jaime Escalante, visit his page on Wikipedia, or look at his obituary at the LA Times website.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Ademola Fabayo and Juan Rodriguez-Chavez

One was born in Nigeria and the other in Mexico, but when the second-highest award for valor in our nation’s military treasure chest was pinned on two heroes Friday, let there be no doubt that Ademola Fabayo and Juan Rodriguez-Chavez are very much United States Marines.


But what warms your heart was explained by the Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, as he presented the awards. “Neither of the recipients of the Navy Cross today was born in this country. But through their active service, both have demonstrated a deep and enduring love for the United States of America and a commitment to defend everything it represents.”

“Your personal stories represent what’s best about this country — a country founded by and strengthened by peoples of different backgrounds,” the Secretary said when the awards ceremony was held at the National Museum of the Marine Corps, which is in Quantico, Va.

From this article.

Another article is also available at CNN.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Nelson Viriato Baptista

Country of origin: Portugal

Nelson Viriato Baptista immigrated to the United States in 1972. In 1977 he opened an upholstery business which currently operates under the name of Lisbon Upholstery Company.

To read more about Nelson Viriato Baptista, visit his page on

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Madeleine Albright

Country of origin: Czechoslovakia

Madeleine Korbel Albright (born May 15, 1937) is the first woman to become a United States Secretary of State. She was appointed by U.S. President Bill Clinton on December 5, 1996, and was unanimously confirmed by a U.S. Senate vote of 99-0. She was sworn in on January 23, 1997.

She also served as Ambassador to the United Nations; to find out more about Madeleine Albright, visit her page on Wikipedia.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Jorge Cham

Country of origin: Panama

Jorge Cham (born in May 1976) is a Panamanian cartoonist and roboticist best known for his popular newspaper and web comic strip Piled Higher and Deeper (PhD Comics). Cham lives in the United States, where he started drawing PhD Comics as a graduate student at Stanford University. He has since been syndicated in several university newspapers and in four published book collections. He was featured on NPR on December 20th, 2010.

To find out more about Jorge Cham, visit his page on Wikipedia, or take a look at his personal web page.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Pedro Guzman

Country of origin: Guatemala

On Tuesday, for the first time in 19 months, Pedro Guzman left Stewart Detention Center, a privately run facility where he was housed while fighting deportation. The Lumpkin, Ga., detention center is one of many run by Corrections Corporation of America, a prison giant that believes its next major market is immigrant detentions.

Read more at this link. Also a video interview with his American wife can be found here.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Teen Immigrants: Five American Stories

Instead of focusing on a single person today, I'd like to share the stories of five immigrants:

Their experiences are real, their emotions sincere. In "Teen Immigrants: Five American Stories", you'll get to know five young people seeking the "American Dream": Anton, from Russia; Luincys, from the Dominican Republic; Mohammed, from Guinea, West Africa; Fatima, of Indian descent, from Tanzania; and Michael, from China.

Excerpt from this link. To see a transcript of the program, visit this link.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Jose Calugas

Country of origin: Philippines

Jose Calugas (December 29, 1907 – January 18, 1998) was a member of the Philippine Scouts during World War II. He received the Medal of Honor for actions during the Battle of Bataan.

At the age of 23, Calugas joined the Philippine Scouts of the United States Army and completed training as an artilleryman and served with different artillery batteries of the Philippine Scouts until his unit was mobilized to fight in World War II. After noticing one of his unit's gun batteries had been destroyed and its crew killed, he gathered several members of his unit together, dug in and attempted to defend the line. He was captured along with other members of his unit and forced to march to a distant enemy prison camp, where he was held as a prisoner of war. When he was released in 1943, he was secretly assigned to a guerilla unit [in] the Philippines where he fought for the liberation of the Philippines from the Japanese.

After retiring from the Army he settled in Tacoma, Washington and became a United States citizen.

To read more about Jose Calugas, visit his page on Wikipedia.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Goli Ameri

Country of origin: Iran

Goli Ameri (in Persian: گلی عامری née Goli Yazdi, born September 26, 1956) is an Iranian-American diplomat, politician and businesswoman from the U.S. state of Oregon. She is the current Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Diplomacy for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. She is also the former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs. She ran for the U.S. House of Representatives as a Republican in 2004, and is a former delegate to the United Nations. She was born in Tehran, Iran.

To find out more about Goli Ameri, visit her page on Wikipedia.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

John Ogbu

Country of origin: Nigeria

John Uzo Ogbu (May 9, 1939 – 20 August 2003) was a Nigerian-American anthropologist and professor known for his theories on observed phenomena involving race and intelligence, especially how race and ethnic differences played out in educational and economic achievement. He suggested that being a "caste-like minority" affects motivation and achievement, depressing IQ scores. He also concluded that some students did poorly because high achievement was considered "acting white" among their peers. Ogbu was also involved in the 1996 controversy surrounding teaching African American Vernacular English in public schools in Oakland, California. The 2000 book Eminent Educators: Studies in Intellectual Influence focused on him as one of "four intellectual giants of the 20th century."

To read more about John Ogbu, visit his page on Wikipedia.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Matee Ajavon

Country of origin: Liberia

Matee Ajavon (born May 7, 1986) is a Liberian American player in the WNBA for the Washington Mystics. A 5'8" guard, Ajavon was chosen by the Houston Comets as the fifth overall draft pick in the 2008 WNBA Draft.


Ajavon played for the USA team in the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The team won all five games, earning the Gold Medal for the event.

To read more about Matee Ajavon, see her page on Wikipedia.

"I know it was difficult, but my mom had our future in her mind," Ajavon said. "She wanted to make a better life for us. She stayed with a white family in their home and took care of their kids. She made enough money to come and get us so we could have an opportunity to live, basically.

To read more about her experiences coming to America, see this link on ESPN.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Kirk P. Kalemkeris

Country of origin: Greece

Dr. Kirk P. Kalemkeris M.D., an oncologist specializing in cancer surgery, pursued his medical studies at Aristotelian University Medical School.

Born in Thessaloniki, Dr. Kalemkeris attended the Saint Anastasia Seminary in Chalkidiki for four years before going to medical school in Thessaloniki. He studied at the Aristotelian University for three years, but had to interrupt his studies to serve the Greek Army during the Greek Civil War, after which he returned to Thessaloniki to complete the 6-year program. After graduating from medical school, he started a general practice in Greece and applied to the University of Kentucky as an exchange doctor. He completed 5 years of training for general surgery there, and he then attended the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Medicine in Philadelphia and became a fellow there. He then spent one year in Walpole, Massachusetts to specialize in oncological surgery.

To read more about Kirk P. Kalemkeris, visit his page at

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Rafael Peralta

Country of origin: Mexico

"The enemy grenade that killed Mexican-born Marine Sgt. Rafael Peralta on November 15, 2004, in Fallujah, Iraq, where he heroically smothered a grenade explosion with his body saving the lives of six fellow Marines, was unaware that Peralta had come to the U.S. as a teen without legal documentation. Peralta would be nominated to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor."

Here is just what Sgt. Peralta did:

"Clearing scores of houses in the previous three days, Sergeant Peralta’ asked to join an under strength squad and volunteered to stand post the night of 14 November, allowing fellow Marines more time to rest. The following morning, during search and attack operations, while clearing the seventh house of the day, the point man opened a door to a back room and immediately came under intense, close-range automatic weapons fire from multiple insurgents. The squad returned fire, wounding one insurgent. While attempting to maneuver out of the line of fire, Sergeant Peralta was shot and fell mortally wounded. After the initial exchange of gunfire, the insurgents broke contact, throwing a fragmentation grenade as they fled the building. The grenade came to rest near Sergeant Peralta’s head. Without hesitation and with complete disregard for his own personal safety, Sergeant Peralta reached out and pulled the grenade to his body, absorbing the brunt of the blast and shielding fellow Marines only feet away. Sergeant Peralta succumbed to his wounds. By his undaunted courage, intrepid fighting spirit, and unwavering devotion to duty, Sergeant Peralta reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service."

Despite his heroics, Sgt. Peralta failed to be given the Medal of Honor but was given the Navy Cross. Military politics may have come into play, with Peralta's one-time status as an undocumented immigrant cutting against his receipt of the nation's highest military honor.


A short clip about Rafael Peralta.

History Channel documentary about Rafael Peralta

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Samir Khurshid

Country of origin: Iraq

I don't think any description I can write tops the articles that have been written about him; to find out more about this amazing artist read Artist in a strange land: Iraqi refugee who once painted Saddam struggles to express himself in Portland and then the article called Iraqi immigrant artist Samir Khurshid gets keys to art studio and supplies from supporters.